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Are you new to Kongs, or have you been using a kong for some time with your dog? Kongs are very popular with dog owners, and ensuring you have the correct kong size is essential.
This article will give you an overview of the different types of kongs available and some suggestions for what to stuff them with. s could be cream cheese to peanut butter.
We understand that you may not have a kong either because you haven’t heard of them before or never understood the hype. Then please read on as we explain why Kong is worth getting for your dog.
Please remember that they can make a mess depending on what you put in the Kong. Therefore, it is advisable to give it to them on a surface that is easy to clean.
So what exactly is a Kong
Simply put, it is a hollow toy made from dog-safe rubber that can be stuffed and made in America. Due to the unique design of the Kong, it will bounce and roll unpredictably – my dogs love to play with a Kong instead of a ball.
Kongs are also great for stuffing with dog-friendly peanut butter or cream cheese. This makes them like a licking mat and will give any dog many hours of entertainment in licking the Kong clean.
So what makes Kong toys so popular with dogs?
The reason is straightforward. Kongs are one of the most versatile dog toys you can get. They can be used for enrichment as a slow feeder to play games with instead of a ball etc.
Kongs are a great way to add enrichment to your dog’s day, and by ditching the bowel and using kong toys and licky mats to feed your dog, you are helping to stimulate them, which all dogs love to do mentally.
Always make sure you avoid foods that are toxic to dogs
Help beat boredom.
Like kids, when dogs are bored, they look for things to do, usually when they get into trouble.
I’m sure your dog has chewed your slipper at some point or something it shouldn’t have done. Providing them with an alternative object to chew, such as a stuffed kong, could save your slippers, cushions, etc., from destruction.
A great alternative to sticks and tennis balls
My dogs love to play fetch etc., with a kong. The great thing about them is that they are not only safe for dogs, unlike tennis balls but provide more stimulation to the fact they are unpredictable when they bounce.
Slow feeding your dog with a kong.
Kongs are a great way to feed your dog as they can be smeared with food on the outside and stuffed.
Whether you use wet, dry, or raw food, you can put the food inside the Kong, naturally slowing them down when eating.
Don’t forget that during the warmer weather, you can freeze the Kong, slowing them down and providing a great cool treat.
Kong toys make a great chew.
As kongs are made from a dog-safe rubber, they can be used as durable chew toy yet is still soft enough that they won’t damage your dog’s teeth like bones.
Kong dog toys can help with dental health.
Have you considered putting a small amount of coconut oil on the outside of the Kong or some dog oral gel?
Combined with how the Kong is designed, this can help clean your dog’s teeth.
Kongs are great for helping dogs get used to being in their crate. Fill a kong with high-value treats and then place it in the crate.
Encourage your dog to go into the crate and investigate this tasty chew.
Don’t rush them; don’t shut the door when they go inside the crate. Let your dog settle down and enjoy the Kong, so they start associating the crate with somewhere safe and bringing positive experiences.
Kong fillings can add a variety.
Just like humans, dogs enjoy a variety of different food. Unfortunately, many dogs get the same thing day in and day out. I love shepherd’s pie, but I wouldn’t want it every day for every meal.
You can stuff a kong with many different foods, from a healthy carrot to dog-friendly peanut butter.
Help with weight management.
When a dog eats from a bowel, there is very little movement and energy used.
When a dog is fed via Kong because of the movement of the Kong etc., it can often provide your dog with around 15 minutes of playtime.
Help relief stress
A lot of dogs, especially since the lockdown, suffer from separation anxiety when they are left alone for any length of time.
You can leave your dog with a frozen kong stuffed with something nice to help pass the time.
I would also recommend you have a professional dog walker or someone to pop in and take them for a comfort break. They could even exchange the Kong for a fresh one.
It is important to ensure you know the few safety guidelines that should be considered when using any kong.
Four types of Kong for dogs
Kong is well known for making various dog toys, not just hollow, rubber-bouncing shapes with which we can stuff and have fun. This article will cover these types of toys from Kong.
Each one of these kongs can be identified by its unique colour, from classic red to tough black.
The Red Kong
The Kong that we are all probably most familiar with is the classic red Kong. The red kongs are ideal for normal dogs- i.e. a dog that doesn’t destroy toys in under 10 seconds and is over 18 months old and under around 7 or 8 years old.
Don’t worry if your dog is one of those that destroy every toy you buy for them; then the Kong do an extreme version which is made from super dog-safe rubber.
The black extreme Kong
We know; that no toy is indestructible; however, Kong has come up with a version for dogs with a tough, powerful ch. It is made of much tougher rubber and is perfect for those dogs that are heavy chewers. This is the boy for you.
The senior Kong
If you have a more senior dog that still likes to chew and enjoy a stuffed toy, then Kong have you covered.
The purple Kong is made from a softer rubber, and so is kinder to your dogs.
Puppy Kong – We all know puppies like to chew
This Kong is slightly different to the others as it comes in two colours – pink or blue The puppy kongs use a softer chewy rubber so that it won’t damage the puppy’s teeth.
Like children, when teething, the gums can be sore, so puppies want to chew. e puppy kong is perfect for helping relieve some of the teething pain that puppies go through.
Generally, your dog will get their adult teeth at around 9 months old. Once your g has all their adult teeth, it is time to move on to one of the other kongs, such as the classic
it is important to choose the right size kong for your dog, and that they come in different sizes, so you must select the correct size to prevent any harm coming to your dog
How do I know what size kong to get my dog
Below is a table that shows you the different sizes that kongs come in
To choose the right type and size KONG for your dog, answer these questions:
How old is my dog – this will help you decide between a puppy, adult or senior
If your dog is fully grown, are they a normal chewer, or do they destroy toys in seconds – If your dog is a normal chewer, then a classic kong is for you; otherwise, you need the extreme.
How heavy is your dog
The dog’s weight also determines what size you need, as you can see from the table above.
If in doubt with dog toys like kongs etc., always go bigger as it reduces the risk of them being swallowed
Kongs and how to clean them
Because kongs will get filled with food and also get slobbery from your dog licking them etc., they will need daily cleaning (at least)
Try to clean it straight away or, at the very least, rinse it under the tap, making it much more manageable.
If you have a dishwasher, then it is straightforward. Just pop it in the dishwasher. It is advisable to rinse it under the cold tap after to make sure all the detergent is removed.
If you don’t have a dishwasher or are using it less to save money, then the following steps.
- Give the Kong a rinse under the hot tap to remove any leftover food
- If you have left the long too long and the food has dried on the Kong, then soak it in warm water for 20 minutes or so
- A toothbrush will make cleaning the inside of the Kong much easier
- Finally, make sure that you rinse it well under the cold tap to ensure all detergent is removed
What is the lifespan of a kong?
As long as you have chosen the correct type of Kong, so classic for a normal chewer and extreme for a toy destroyer, it should last for years. As with all toys and chews, t is important to check for damage, such as cracks, missing bits, etc. If you notice this, it is time to get a new one.
My collie had one for 7 years before I needed to replace it, and by that, I decided it was time for her to have the senior one anyway.
Tips on how to use a Kong
Tips for beginners
Whilst most dogs know what to do with a kong straight away, sometimes they can be a little confused.
Start by putting some high-value dry treats in the Kong and let them paw at it. As the kongs roll around, the treats will start to fall out, and they will get the idea.
After a short while, and your dog understands the priniple of rolling the Kong around to get food, you can make it a little harder. Mix dog-friendly peanut butter with the treats, making it a little more challenging.
Tips for intermediate users
Now you can start plugging the holes with either cream cheese or dog-friendly peanut butter. This also means you can start using the small bits of kibble. Once the kibble is in the Kong and the holes bunged up, treats will take a little longer and require some licking to get them out.
You can then increase the difficulty by mixing the kibble with wet dog food, cream cheese, pate (not too much as it can be salty), or natural yoghurt. Just make sure you avoid foods that are bad for dogs.
As a top tip, you may want to leave a few bits of loose food at the top of the Kong so they are easy to get and gets your dog in the mood.
The dog that is the king of Kong
If your dog is good at getting food out of kongs and you don’t feel it is a challenge anymore, then no problem.
Mix up the layers and maybe add some ice cubes chunks, making it harder to get the food out.
Better still, once you have stuffed the kongs with food and maybe just a little water, put it in the freezer and give them a frozen kong to play with – also great in the summer as a delicious cool treat.
How to stuff a Kong
Stuffing a kong can be messy, depending on what you fill it with.
Some filling, such as raw mince, can be easily spooned in; this is what I do for Missy.
Generally speaking, the easiest way to fill a kong is to stand the Kong in a glass or cup with the small hole at the bottom, ideally bunged up with something like cream cheese, dog-safe peanut butter, or a fruit or vegetable puree.
Now gently squeeze the top of the Kong to make the large hole slightly easier to fill, and start by spooning in whatever your choice of kong filler is for the day.
Now bung the large hole with a bit of meat, an ice cube or some more cream cheese.
Variety is the spice of life, so mix it up.
Mixing wet and dry ingredients makes the Kong more exciting and can add to the challenge.
Try and make each day a bit of a surprise for the dog so they look forward to it. After all, if I gave you chicken and rice every day, you would be bored.
The puppy kong
All dogs, especially Puppies, can be a bit sensitive to the change in food. This can cause upset tummies with vomiting or diarrhoea.
When starting out with a kong with your puppy, it is advisable to keep to your puppies’ regular food mainly.
You can then start slowly adding little amounts of any new food chopped up small to avoid choking. This could be something healthy such as dog-friendly fruit and veg like bananas, apples, carrots or broccoli.
Small amounts of dog-friendly peanut butter can be used to help plug the hole to stop anything falling out once the Kong is ready.
Use small amounts of low-fat cream cheese or cottage cheese as glue to bind the food together and to ‘plug’ the opening once you’ve filled the KONG.
Here are some simple ideas for kong filling
When stuffing a kong to start with, it is best to keep it simple until your dog gets used to it
Make sure that all foods are cut up small so that your dog cannot choke on them, and remember to watch the calories etc, to prevent your dog from putting on weight.
Bananas are great when mashed up with a little water to help bind everything together, and in the summer, you can put them in the freezer.
What other ingredients you include in the Kong is up to you. This could be their normal kibble, some chopped-up meat or vegetables etc.
Of course, one of the easiest and simplest fillings is to use your dog’s normal dinner. Whilst it may seem like an easy get-out, it really isn’t, as it still helps makes mealtimes much more fun and interesting for them.
If you feed your dog kibble, mix it with some fresh fruit and vegetables that are safe for your dog, as well as bunging the hole at the top and bottom with something sticky such as wet dog food, low-fat cream cheese, peanut butter etc.
Why would you want to freeze a kong, you may be asking? Well
- Frozen kongs last longer and provide more of a challenge
- Makes a long-lasting refreshing treat for your dog, especially in the summer
- Provides more options on what you can stuff the Kong with. For example, you can make a dog-friendly chicken broth to stuff the Kong with
Do frozen kongs last longer
It depends on your dog. Missy takes around 30 minutes to finish a frozen kong, but Roxy takes an hour to finish exactly the same Kong. However, you can see how it extends the time that your dog will spend licking and pawing the dog.
The liquid-based kong fillers
- Homemade broth made with dog-safe foods and no added salt or onions etc
- Natural yoghurt
- Vegetables blended with a small amount of water – obviously no onions etc
Suitable fillers for Kong dog toys
- Chopped-up meat with no added salt and the fat removed
- Fruit and vegetable chopped up
- Your dog’s normal kibble
- pieces of chopped-up meat
- Wet food:
Suitable food for blocking up the holes on the kong toy
- Low-fat cream cheese or cottage cheese
- Peanut buyer – no xylitol
Some frozen Kong recipes
A fishy recipe
This is a great healthy recipe for dogs that like fis
- Low-fat cream cheese
- Raw or cooked meat that has been chopped up
- Homemade broth
- A small dehydrated fish, such as a sprat
- Plug the small hole at the bottom of the Kong with peanut butter or cream cheese. I usually use a spoon or two to ensure it is properly blocked.
- Place the Kong in a cup to keep it upright and to make it easier
- Spoon the meat of your choice and a couple of sprats into the Kong via the larger hole. You can gently squeeze it to make it easier
- Carefully pour in the broth, trying to avoid it overfilling
- Plug the top hole up with some more low-fat cream cheese and poke a fish out of it
- Put the Kong in the freezer standing up and leave
After a few hours, the Kong should be completely frozen and ready to use (I leave mine overnight and have two or three that I rotate)
A few warnings regarding using a kong
Kongs can get very messy when your dog is playing with them, so it is essential that you give it to him somewhere where he won’t damage the carpet or the sofa. Many people feed them in the kitchen, which is usually a tiled floor.
Safety tips to consider when using the kong dog toy
Whilst kongs are pretty indestructible, nothing is totally safe. For the first few times that you sue the Kong, it is vital to keep an eye on your dog to ensure they come to no harm
Made from durable rubber
Kongs are only durable as long as you have the correct type. For example, giving a classic kong to a dog with a strong, powerful jaw is not a good idea. You need to make sure that they have the Kong Extreme.
If t your dog is a destructive chewer, then I would never leave them unattended with a Kong dog toy, just in case.
Incorrect size for your dog
As previously mentioned, it is very important that your dog has the right size of Kong. After all, if you give a large dog a kong suitable or a small dog, you are simply asking for trouble.
Making sure the Kong is the right size will make it harder for the dog to swallow.
As a general rule, try and get a kong that is almost the size of your dog’s head, but you also need to make sure that the hole is not too big, or your dog could get his jaw stuck in the hole. Fortunately, this is not usually too hard to remove, but if possible best to avoid
As kongs get older, the rubber will start to perish and show signs of wear and tear/ once you start to see any signs of damage, it is time to replace the Kong to prevent the risk of bits breaking off and causing a choking hazard.
A daily inspection when you are filling your Kong should include checking for cracks etc.
Don’t forget that all calories count and any food fed via the Kong should be taken into account when feeding your dog their daily food allowance, so they don’t get fat. This is the same with any treats you give them.
Whilst this is rare, as the hole at the bottom of the Kong is supposed to prevent a vacuum from being created, there have been a couple of reports of dogs’ tongue getting stuck in the Kong due to a vacuum.
To help prevent this, I have heard it is advised to get a straw and push it through one hole and out of the other before filling the Kong with any food. Once filled, remove the straw and give it to your dog,.
However, to me, this seems pointless as the hole will disappear as it melts or as the dog starts licking the Kong
Does your dog have separation anxiety?
If you have a dog that differs from separation anxiety, then leaving a stuffed or frozen Kong for them to enjoy whilst you are out can help them cope as it keeps them occupied
If you are worried or concerned about leaving your dog alone with the Kong, then a simple method is to spread some food on the outer and inner walls of the Kong, leaving the middle free for the air to still get in
obviously, the disadvantage of this is that your dog will finish the Kong much sooner
Are there alternatives to Kong
Yes, as you would expect, there are a lot of copy-kongs that are cheaper. However, I would not invest in one of these as they are just that cheap copies and not as tough and durable and won’t last as long, so is a false economy.
You also run the risk of them breaking and therefore creating a choking hazard.
Kongs are a great way to make feeding your dog more fun by adding enrichment to the dogs’ day.
They are also one of the most versatile dog toys you can get on the market and can be used instead of the tennis ball or sticks for a game of fetch, a way of ditching the food bowl and a refreshing summer treat, amongst other things.Amazon is a great place to start looking for the right kong kong for your dog